The Bible’s answer
The great tribulation will bring the greatest time of trouble ever to come upon mankind. According to Bible prophecy, it will occur during “the last days,” or “the end time.” (2 Timothy 3:1; Daniel 12:4, New American Bible) It will be “a tribulation such as has not occurred from the beginning of the creation that God created until that time, and will not occur again.”—Mark 13:19; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21, 22.
Events during the great tribulation
Destruction of false religion. With surprising speed, false religion will be destroyed. (Revelation 17:1, 5; 18:9, 10, 21) The political powers represented by the United Nations will carry out God’s will in taking this action.—Revelation 17:3, 15-18. a
Attack on true religion. A coalition of nations, referred to in Ezekiel’s vision as “Gog of the land of Magog,” will try to annihilate those who practice true religion. However, God will protect his worshippers from destruction.—Ezekiel 38:1, 2, 9-12, 18-23.
Judgment of earth’s inhabitants. Jesus will judge all mankind and “will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:31-33) The basis for his judgment will be the support, or lack of support, that each person gave to Jesus’ “brothers,” those who will rule with him in heaven.—Matthew 25:34-46.
Gathering of Kingdom rulers. Faithful ones who have been chosen to rule with Christ will finish their earthly course and be resurrected to life in heaven.—Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
Armageddon. This “war of the great day of God the Almighty” is also called “the day of Jehovah.” (Revelation 16:14, 16; Isaiah 13:9; 2 Peter 3:12) Those judged adversely by Christ will be destroyed. (Zephaniah 1:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10) This will include the destruction of the worldwide political system, pictured in the Bible by a seven-headed wild beast.—Revelation 19:19-21.
Events after the great tribulation
Confinement of Satan and the demons. A great angel will hurl Satan and the demons “into the abyss,” a symbol of deathlike inactivity. (Revelation 20:1-3) Satan’s condition in the abyss could be likened to being in prison; he will be unable to influence affairs elsewhere.—Revelation 20:7.
The Millennium begins. God’s Kingdom will begin its 1,000-year reign, which will bring great blessings to mankind. (Revelation 5:9, 10; 20:4, 6) An unnumbered “great crowd” will “come out of the great tribulation,” surviving it to see the start of the Millennium on earth.—Revelation 7:9, 14; Psalm 37:9-11.
a In the book of Revelation, false religion is symbolized as Babylon the Great, “the great prostitute.” (Revelation 17:1, 5) The scarlet-colored beast, which destroys Babylon the Great, is a symbol of the organization whose purpose is to unite and represent the nations of the world. It first existed as the League of Nations and is now the United Nations.